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Ciao a tutti, e benvenuti a Roma!!! Have you kids been noticing that the episodes seem to be alternating between a fairly lame week and then an explosively awesome one? I love love LOVED this episode and I don’t think it’s just because I’m typing this to you live from bella Roma. I can’t wait to hear what you guys thought of the ep, but I mean seriously, is it even possible that there are any naysayers out there? To quote Mizz Jay from what is quickly becoming my favorite ANTM moment ever…
We open with shots of Roma in the morning – the Colosseum, bridges, and the always lovely Fiumicino airport. The girls and their luggage careen around the corner fresh out of baggage claim and attempt to find their way into the city. Whitney’s excited since she’s never been to Italy and Kat thinks that everyone needs to bring it because they’re down to the final six. A charter bus brings the girls through the centro and they oooh and ahhh over the sights. Everyone, that is, except for Lame Lauren. She’s looking bored as all hell and leaning up against the window. I understand transatlantic flights are tiring and all, but dude, it’s Rome. Take it from me that you pass something awesome every half-second in this city.
The bus pulls over at the Colosseum and as Anya disembarks from the bus… well, I’ll let her put it into words for you. “My first step in Rome and I eat it on the ground!” There’s no screencap that could possibly do it justice, but suffice to say I guffawed out loud. Fantastic. Gotta love that the girl can laugh at herself. You know Dominique would have found a way to blame the stair/bus/driver/time of day/latitude/phase of the moon. (Check all that apply.)
As the girls frolic around Ancient Rome – mainly the Colosseum – we are treated to yet another overture of Whitney singing her own plus-sized praises. Apparently only one other plus-sized girl has made it to the abroad section of the show so she thinks she deserves a pat on the back because this is such a huge deal – no pun intended.
When the girls head back to the bus, the driver hands them some Tyra Mail. I nearly have to pause the episode to do an Irish jig of Joy that the Tyra Ticker Tape is gone for good! But Tyra’s outdone herself this time. Never one to be modest, this Tyra Mail has her face all photoshopped into the Mona Lisa.
A cutesy little poem tells the girls to head around the corner where they’ll find their new digs underneath the flag of Rome. I don’t recognize it, but then again I lived in Chicago for 21 years without knowing that we had a flag of any sort. (But we do, and it’s pretty.) According to Kat, the apartment is off the chain – Tyra must be feeling a little guilty about phoning in this entire season. There’s a pool in the living room and probably the most comfortable beds I’ve ever seen in my life. Still, I miss the days of the Paris apartment from Cycle 1 where the girls were cramped into a teeny tiny efficiency apartment.
Next we get to suffer through the requisite girl-gets-sick-abroad segment of the show where Fatima whines about the conflict she feels from being excited and being sick. She curls up in bed and Anya seems to be the only girl that cares. Meanwhile, Dominique dusts off her soap box (my, how on earth did that fit into her luggage!) and starts preaching about how Fatima has so much potential but isn’t living up to it. The other girls murmur their assent. Anya is so bothered by the everyone’s need to tear down their competition to build themselves up.
The next morning seems to be a lovely day in Roma and the models are nestled all snug in their beds while visions of Seventeen covers dance in their heads. Except Lauren decides to take this time to use her suitcases and other heavy belongings as discuses to hurl across the room. And no, jetlag is not an option here, because morning time in Roma is post-midnight in NYC so if anything, Lauren should feel like it’s the middle of the night. Also. What do we think the odds are that Lauren sleeps in the punk ass leather jacket? I mean, does she even have suitcases? Because I’m pretty sure she didn’t bring any other clothes with her to Rome.
Mona Tyra Mail! The girls scatter out from the bedroom to read it except for Fatima who stays in bed. Oh and Mizz Dominique is the picture of beauty.
The message tells the girl to be careful how they roll because they might miss the beauty in Rome. Anya immediately thinks it has something to do with the river. The other girls say WTF mate, but I’m not so sure. Even though it’s not the first thing I’d think of, as soon as Anya talks about rolling on the river I can’t get CCR out of my head.
We next catch the girls heading into Piazza del Popolo where a hunky Romano named Claudio greets the girls. Apparently, he’s one of designer Gai Mattiolo’s minions. Um, really? Gai? I can’t for the life of me think of a single Italian name that this could be short for. Irrelevant. Cladio’s purpose is to help the girls learn about Roman fashion, which according to him is standing out to fit in. And here’s where I can jump in and use my Roman knowledge to expose the lies that Tyra would like you to believe. I can sum up ALL Italian fashion – for men and women, rich and poor- in two rules:
1) Wear all black or shades of gray, all the time.
2) Dress for the season, not the temperature.
That’s it. That’s all you need to fit in. None of this stand-out-to-fit-in nonsense. Irrelevant Hoolia fact; I proudly buck this trend. By this time of year, it’s 80 degrees and sunny every day here and the majority of the Romans I pass are still wrapped up in winter wool coats or down jackets. Because TECHNICALLY the calendar has not turned to summer yet. And I’m all like, screw this, you can bet your ass I’m wearing a skirt and a tank just to celebrate the fact that I’m not in Chicago, where snow flurries are forecast this week. And then all the Romans look at me like I’m absolutely insane. This is probably why Italians reek of B.O. – they have got to be sweating up a storm underneath those heavy coats. And seriously, they wear no color at all. It is insanity.
I digress. The girls hop on some segways (um, what?) and there are typical hijinks while they attempt to find their balance. Good luck on the crazy uneven cobblestone streets, girls. Claudio takes them down the streets surrounding Piazza di Spagna where some of the most expensive stores in all of Rome can be found. In the meantime he points out excellent examples of fashion on “random Italian women” aka models attempting to look casual.
At the end of the tour, Claudio takes the girls up to Gai Mattiolo’s studio where their challenge is revealed. After an Italian makeover, each girl will try their hardest to impress guy with how they embody the Italian style. I’m not too sure what the actual challenge aspect is here since the employees seem to be the ones choosing the outfits instead of our girls. From what I can tell it’s basically a mini go-see because Gai asks each of the girls to walk for them and judges them more on their looks than their clothing.
And the results are in! Fatima is elegant. Dominique is natural but doesn’t look fresh. HA! Methinks “not fresh” is code for “no spring chicken.” Everything about Kat is very beautiful – her face, her walk, and her body. Note from Hoolia: Kat’s outfit is just about the only thing that any Roman woman would actually consider wearing. Anya – decked out in what possibly is the most hideous outfit of all time – is blonde, skinny, young, and fresh. Whitney’s look is too American (that’s the fate of us blondies over here in Southern Europe) but her face is going to be her golden ticket “in life and in model.” Gai, maybe a new Italian-English dictionary for you? Lauren continues to clomp down the runway and I mean really, at this point, it’s like she has to be trying for it to be this bad. All Gai can come up with is that Lauren is tall and has great legs. The prize is a glitzy red carpet gown that Anya wins. Like last week, Whitney seethes with jealousy.
Back at the glam-partment, a short and sweet Mona Tyra Mail reads “Facila, Brezza, Bella.” Since Kat’s apparently the only girl that’s learned any Romance language, she uses her knowledge of French to help decode “Easy, Breezy, Beautiful” and the girls correctly assume that they’ll have to shoot a Cover Girl commercial in Italian. I am on the edge. of. my. seat. Oh the hilarity that is about to ensue in approximately three and a half minutes. Lauren’s nervous because she knows that she’s not a cover girl. Yes, Lauren, Cover Girls generally shower to prevent the dreads much like the ones forming on your head.
On set, Mr. Jay’s apparently been brushing up on his Italian for beginners although he manages to mangle his “Benvenuti a Roma” greeting. The spunky Cover Girl rep from the Wal-Mart challenge has gotten his booty over to Rome for this shoot and you just know he and Mr. Jay are two peas in a pod.
As expected, the commercial will be shot in Italian and the girls have to learn it while they’re in hair and makeup. Although they do get to use cue cards, that won’t help them out with their pronunciation so Jay recommends that they learn it phonetically. However, they luck out since the Italians are generally too lazy to translate American brand names and certain American phrases like “sexy” and “trendy” and what not so this makes up a good half of their monologue. So, I mean, they’ve got that going for them.
Prepare because I’m about to drop some major knowledge on you: Cover Girl isn’t even sold in Italy, so there’s really zero point to shooting this commercial. Especially in Italian. I know that many of the shoots aren’t for use in a specific ad campaign, but still. It’s not like they made the Cycle 9 girls attempt to learn Mandarin. Nonetheless, I’m prepared to overlook this solely for the comedic value.
Anya’s the first ragazza to attempt to model and move and put on lipstick and interact with actors all at the same time! (Her words, not mine.) As Nigel will say later in panel, sometimes it’s a struggle to understand Anya speaking English, so of course her Italian is abominable. Everyone behind the scenes collapses into giggles. Not laughter, giggles.
Jay tells her that the only thing that saved her shoot was that she was fun and flirty. She tells him what appears to be “Gracias” but I don’t hear the “s” – just “Grazia,” which, of course, is still wrong. “That’s Spanish,” little Cover Girl Man tells her. Kat essentially rocks the Italian because I can understand a good 90% of what she’s saying, although she appears to be throwing a random “R”s into the middle of some words. I catch a glimpse of the cue cards that Dominique uses and can tell that her words are NOT written out phonetically whereas Anya’s were… so is each girl using a different set of cue cards? Sometimes I feel like there are enough mysteries in an episode of ANTM to rival Lost.
Dominique goes in with excess energy and slur-shouts her way through the language. She’s definitely got the Clydesdale walk going on (somewhere, Mizz Jay is cringing and rolling over on a massage table) and just shouts what appears to be “BRASILIA” in the middle of the commercial. No, doll, you’re in Italy, not Brazil. The Italian director says she sounds Chinese, not Italian and he looks close to tears as he watches her on the monitor. Also, WTF is up with how washed out Dominique looks in this shoot? I always feel like the makeup artists get a little foundation-heavy on CG shoots, but at least match the color to her skin tone.
Lauren’s shoot is exactly as hideous as you can imagine. Stilted walk, no enthusiasm, swearing, awkward pauses between words… it’s a disaster. I mean really, she has to be trying to be this bad, right? Jay tries to give her some pointers but to no avail. Fatima’s starting to lose her voice but manages to do a decent job throughout the commercial. Unfortunately, the director falls in love with her and I’m pretty sure she could just say “ciao” over and over again and he’d love it just as much. She gets a big smile from Mr. Jay.
Whitney of course hams it up and gives a bunch of fake bad cheesy laughs that are totally unnecessary. Mr. Jay gives her a bunch of criticism but it ends with him telling her that she’s like “Bitcherina.” You’d best believe that I’m preparing to use that insult whenever possible, indefinitely. Still, it’s unclear if the criticism came during or after her shoot. I hope he gave her a chance to change it. I know I’m pretty outspoken in my Whit-love, and yeah, she’s been a bit of a brat the last few weeks. Still, I think that Jay and the judges are being too harsh on her. It’s not like Cover Girl commercials are being nominated for any commercial-Oscars or anything like that. They’re really corny and over-the-top and I think Whitney was the only girl that played into that. Yeah, she played into it too much and because of that it came off as a bit bitcherina (see – using it already!), but I don’t think Jay and the panel should slam her as much as they do. It’s one thing for Whitney to act fake in a “real” situation like last episode’s party, but it’s a completely different thing when she does it as while acting in a commercial.
Italian panel time! And you know what that means… time for Tyra to affect a godawful accent and bust out the handful of Italian words someone looked up for her. Oh and also to brag about all of her experience with Italian fashion. Benvenuti a Roma, indeed!
Fatima’s up first and I think I will give each commercial 1-5 hunks of parmesan (get it – cause the commercials are cheesy!!) for how hard they make me laugh.
Tyra wonders if Fatima was selling sexual chocolate. Paulina’s impressed that Fatima managed to say all the words in one take. The photographer stops just short of ravishing Fatima right there on the panel floor. Hoolia wonders what’s up with the way Fatima won’t stop swiveling her upper body in the commercial? Stop it! Only 1 hunk of parm.
Paulina feels it was fake from beginning to end. Mizz Jay had a problem with the gasps of air that Whitney took every few seconds. Seriously, girl sounded like she was about to dunk under and dive to the bottom of a pool. Photographer man concurs. Tyra likes it, which is really no surprise that Ms. Divalicious wants to seek out one of her own. 3 hunks of parm.
Tyra thinks the kiss was the only thing that looked real while Mizz Jay thinks that it was horrible. Nigel says that Anya looked so confused that even if she got a word or two right, he didn’t believe her because of her body language. The photographer says that he doesn’t really care because Anya looks like a model. 4 hunks of parm.
Every single judge fails to hold in their laughter and Mizz Jay nearly rolls across the table. Tyra deems it a hoochified commercial. Dominique managed to scare Paulina, but the photographer gives her props for being so energetic. A whopping 5 hunks of parm.
There are no words. At least the judges found some. Mizz Jay holds up his “HELL TO THE NO” sign. Nigel thinks Lauren threw it away and didn’t really try. The photographer says that Lauren was so nervous that it sort of counts as an excuse. Um. No. Paulina was afraid that Lauren would do something like this and unfortunately she was right. Another 5 hunks of parm.
Before the commercial even airs, Kat walks right up and gives Tyra another lesson on how to pronounce her name. Oh no she di-int! Tyra says Kat’s talking more in panel and Kat admits that it’s because she got slammed last week for a fading personality. The photographer thinks Kat looks very Italian. Paulina says that Kat did a better job than anyone else, but Tyra thought the ending was lifeless and boring. Or, “boring sexy.” Tyra doesn’t like how Kat looked over her shoulder after kissing the boyfriend… but she didn’t do that in the commercial. Seriously, Tyra’s criticisms are identical to Mr. Jay’s week after week. Is she even reviewing the girls’ work? Phoning. It. In. Kat’s commercial gets a single hunk of parm.
Before she lets the girls go, she has them do a corny giggle but Lauren refuses until Tyra prods her enough. “If you want to be a model, you’ve got to be corny sometimes!”she lectures Lauren. After one last mispronunciation of Kat’s name – which Tyra refuses to say correctly – the girls are dismissed while the judges deliberate.
The girls get called: Fatima, Kat, Anya, Dominique. Whitney and Lauren for the bottom two. Whitney takes beautiful pictures and while Tyra liked the commercial, the other judges complained about her phoniness. Lauren wouldn’t know how to cover up herself for a million dollars but still manages to take some beautiful pictures. Still, her commercial was dreadful and she acted like she just gave up. Tyra tells Whitney to get real and keeps her in the running to become America’s Next Top Model.
A final note from Hoolia: When it comes to judging the models, I feel like sometimes the panel has been taking lessons from Michael Scott – they’ll give one girl 10 points, award another girl a gold star, and a thumbs-up for a third. And of course, there’s no conversion chart in their notebooks. For both the challenge and the commercial, it didn’t seem to be quite clear what the girls were supposed to strive for. Were they supposed to look Italian? Was the goal to master the language as best as possible? Should they have just had fun with it? What is the ideal amount of energy to have and is it worse to have too much or too little? Were facial expressions the most important? It seemed as if each girl had at least one major strength and major weakness and the judges unfairly used different rules for each girl – praising one girl for the same reason they criticized another. I know it would be ideal to be able to portray all of these things, but sometimes that’s not always going to be possible. Even from week to week, there’s discrepancy with what the girls are told. Yay? Nay? Some food for thought at the very least.
Alrighty then. Was it Lauren’s time to go or were you all rooting for Whitney the Bitcherina to get bounced? Was Fatima milking her “I’m sick” schtick or do you think she was genuinely suffering? Did you catch Kat doubled over in laughter while Lauren’s commercial was airing at panel? Are you just as confused as I am as to how Dominique is somehow still on the show? Is the Italian actor from the commercials a saint for dealing with all the girls? And most importantly – who is your ideal final 3? (For me: Whit, Anya, and Kat!)